Are You Sleeping?


Do you get enough sleep?

This is what happens to your body if it’s deprived of sleep:

  • You have problems with memory and concentration.
  • You have problems finding the right word.
  • You get irritable – you think so?
  • Neurotransmitters in the brain become altered.
  • You become more susceptible to infection.
  • At its extreme, sleep deprivation can lead to death.

h1sciqsleepwalkingIt seems that no matter how many Ambiens (zolpidem) and Lunestas (eszopiclone) we take, we wake up feeling like shit (sorry – there is just no other word!): feeling hung over and inattentive. So much so that the FDA recently cut recommended doses of Ambien and other drugs that contain zolpidem for fear that their use, even the night before, might impair driving or other activities the next day.

This is because Lunesta and Ambien affect GABA receptors, which are found throughout the brain and are associated with side effects, including thinking disturbances, and deficits in attention and memory, explains Jason Uslaner, lead author of a study published in the April 3 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

A new study funded by Merck (of which Uslaner is director of In Vivo Pharmacology at Merck & Co.) has shown that a new class of sleep medications appears to help people fall asleep without causing grogginess the next day (YES! You did read that correctly!)

These new medications – known as dual orexin receptor antagonists (DORA) – target a more specific region of the brain than the other popular sleep drugs, promoting sleep without affecting cognition.

About 15 years ago, scientists discovered chemical messengers known as orexins, which are released by a relatively small brain region known as the lateral hypothalamus. lateralThis area of the brain releases orexins during the day to keep us awake and lowers levels at night so we can sleep.

The appeal of orexin antagonists, said Dr Michael Thorpy, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, is that they “target a system that’s more specific for sleep.”

That means, theoretically, fewer side effects and perhaps less of a tendency to be habit-forming, Thorpy explained.

Merck already has one such drug, suvorexant, under review by the FDA.

But with this study, Uslaner and his colleagues investigated a compound called DORA-22, which has the same mechanism of action as suvorexant, to see how it fared alongside Ambien, Lunesta and also diazepam (Valium) in rats and rhesus monkeys.

DORA-22 did not lead to the same mental impairments as the other three drugs. Rhesus monkeys and rats performed just as well on memory and attention tasks shortly after being administered DORA-22 as they did on the placebo.

This is the first time in years that scientists have targeted a totally different receptor in the quest to combat insomnia, said Dr Alexandre Abreu, co-director of the UHealth Sleep Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

444-36-cartoonBut many questions remain as even experts note that findings from animal studies do not always hold up in human trials: Do the drugs truly have fewer side effects? Will they be habit-forming? And will they change the quality of sleep in any way?

Those questions will only be answered with more testing and use in humans…(waiting…waiting…waiting…)


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Love that Comes Too Late

As a 42-year-old single female, I already feel like it’s kinda all over…this is it! I haven’t found the love of my life and I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. (Insert big ‘Aaawwwww’ here)

There is some morbidly good news about this: new research suggests that those who did not have a spouse in their 40s were more than twice as likely to die early – so I won’t be alone for THAT long (LOL!)

Chronic Comic 158

A pretty melancholic introduction to this latest bit of information, which has absolutely nothing to do with FM…it was just something interesting I found, so I’m sharing.

The finding applies specifically to those who’ve already entered their 40s, when the likelihood for continuing to live to a ripe old age is high. However, investigators say, marital status appears to significantly affect the odds, with those entering midlife single facing more than twice the risk of dying early than those who are part of a permanent partnership.

Study author Ilene Siegler, a professor of medical psychology with the department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical Center, and her team noted that people (in Western society) who reach the age of 40 can look forward to an average overall life expectancy of roughly 83 years.

The study had been designed to look at how personality traits evident during one’s college years might ultimately affect the risk for developing coronary heart disease down the road. Such traits included optimism, pessimism, depression, sociability and hostility. The influence of other behavioural factors (such as educational and professional attainments, smoking and alcohol histories and exercise habits) were also weighed, alongside changing marital status and death incidence.

The results: compared with currently married men and women, individuals who entered midlife without ever having been married were found to face more than double the risk for death during midlife.

Similarly, those who had previously been married but were no longer married when entering midlife were also found to face a relatively elevated risk for death (1.64 times the risk of married individuals).

The researchers said the findings held constant even after accounting for all the personality, behavioural and health-related risk factors that might theoretically affect death risk.

They suggested that ‘chronic loneliness’ could be one key element, among others, driving the mortality boost, a phenomenon they said it will be increasingly important to get a handle on as the population ages.

tumblr_lvgvr1Qq7c1qg1k0no1_400While Markie Blumer, an assistant professor with the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the research is “solid,” she cautioned against “putting all our eggs in the basket of marriage.”

Blumer pointed to the lack of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the study sample; the lack of consideration given to parental history in terms of marriage; the insufficient discussion of the role of cohabitation outside of marriage; or the critical role played by friends and children in terms of providing non-spousal social support. And, before I start planning my funeral, Blumer described the study’s male-centric focus as particularly “problematic,” given that “other studies show that while married men live longer and are happier, married women do not. So, women need to read about this research with a mindful eye.”

On that point, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, chair of medicine and a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University, confirmed that gender differences when it comes to marriage’s effect on health are “sizeable.”

Wu+Conghan,+101,+and+his+103-year-old+wife+pose+for+photos+while+wearing+wedding+clothesThe association seen between marriage and survival in this study does NOT prove a cause-and-effect relationship.


Suicide is Painless

Something I didn’t know before starting to research this topic – We,ve all heard of Dr Kevorkian but did you know that on August 15, 1996, Dr Jack Kevorkian reportedly assisted in the suicide of Judith Curren, 42, of Pembroke, Massachusetts, an FM sufferer.  Jan Murphy, another FM sufferer, also turned to Kevorkian for help; later reported her assisted suicide in the summer of 1997.

“When you start hearing there is no hope, no treatment, and no cure over and over, you lose your will to fight,” wrote Jan Murphy in a eulogy read at her funeral. “What most people saw of me was a shell of what was going on inside.” Know the feeling?

In a survey of Spanish FM sufferers:

  • 16.7% of them reported one to three previous suicide attempts.
  • Drug poisoning was the most frequently employed method for suicide attempt (70%).
  • No relevant differences were found between suicide attempters and non-attempters in relation to age, education and marital status,
  • But a significant difference was found in relation to employment status.

Pain, poor sleep quality, anxiety and depression were positively correlated with suicide risk.

Anyone who has suffered with FM knows that it requires a huge adjustment, not only to the illness itself but to all the consequences it has on our lives. Chronic illness is likely to affect the way sufferers live, the way they see themselves, and how they relate to others. With the present state of world events, many people are feeling additional tension, anxiety, or sadness. But suffering with severe depression may be unnecessary. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, it’s essential that you know you don’t have to go it alone. Suicide is preventable, and there are a variety of resources that can provide the support you need.

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Talking or joking about suicide or statements about being reunited with a deceased loved one
  • Making statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness (“Life is useless” or “Everyone would be better off without me.”)
  • Preoccupation with death (recurrent death themes in music, literature, or drawings)
  • Appearing suddenly happier or calmer
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about
  • Unusual visiting or calling people one cares about (saying good-byes)
  • Giving possessions away, making arrangements, or settling one’s affairs
  • Self-destructive or risk-taking behavior (alcohol/drug abuse, reckless driving, self-injury or mutilation).

What you can do if you see possible warning signs of suicide…

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide. It’s okay to ask the person, “Do you ever feel so badly that you think of suicide?” Don’t worry about planting the idea in someone’s head. If someone has been thinking of suicide, she will be relieved and grateful that you were willing to be so open and nonjudgmental. It shows her you truly care and take her seriously.
  • Be non-judgmental. Listen attentively, allow expression of feelings, and accept those feelings. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong or whether feelings are good or bad. Never call someone’s bluff or try to minimize his problems by telling him he has everything to live for or how hurt his family would be. This will only increase his guilt and feelings of hopelessness. He needs to be reassured that there is help, that what he is feeling is treatable, and that his suicidal feelings are temporary.
  • Take it seriously. Always take thoughts of or plans for suicide seriously. If someone admits to thinking about suicide, question the individual further and ask, “Do you have a plan?” “Do you know how or when you would do it?” If you feel the person is in immediate danger, you must make sure that he or she is not alone and can talk to a professional immediately. If necessary, call 911 or take the person to a crisis center or emergency room. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Never keep a plan for suicide a secret. Don’t worry about breaking a bond of friendship at this point. Friendships can be fixed. A suicidal person must see a doctor or psychiatrist immediately.
  • Offer support. If you feel the person isn’t in immediate danger, you can say things like, “I can tell you’re really hurting” and “I care about you and will do my best to help you.” Then follow through-help her find a doctor or a mental health professional. Offer hope that alternatives are available, but don’t offer glib reassurance.
  • Get help. Seek support from individuals or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Need help?

In Australia, call 13 11 14 Lifeline Australia

In the USA, call 1 800 SUICIDE or 1 800 273 TALK

In the UK, call 0800 068 4141

In New Zealand, call 0800 543 354